Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Tombstone Tuesday - Mary (Kurten) Thielen

mary kurten thielen racine wisconsin appleton

My great-great-grandmother Mary Anne (Kurten) Thielen was born July 26, 1869 in Appleton, Outagamie County, Wisconsin. Her parents were John Hubert and Theresa M. (Becker) Kurten. The Kurten family were early settlers of both Racine, Racine County, Wisconsin and Appleton, arriving in Racine in 1847, shortly before the city was incorporated in 1848, and moving to Appleton in the 1860s. Some of the family, including Mary, later returned to Racine, where Mary's nephews Russell Matthew Kurten and Louis John Kurten founded the Kurten Medical Clinic.

Before she was married, Mary worked as a sewing machine operator, and later as a shoe vamper (the front part of a shoe is called a vamp) at J. Miller & Company while living at 910 Kewaunee Street in Racine. On October 21, 1890, Mary married Peter H. Thielen at St. Joseph's Catholic Church in Racine. The couple lived for a time at 1502 Milwaukee Avenue (now known as Martin Luther King Drive) before settling down at 814 Jackson Street. Mary and Peter had thirteen children: John Hubert "Jack" Thielen, Henry Thielen, Peter Thielen, Mathias John "Matt" Thielen, Anna Mary (Thielen) Campbell, Marie Elizabeth Thielen, Michael William "Mike" Thielen, an unnamed daughter, Cecelia Elizabeth Thielen, Viola Elizabeth "Vi" (Thielen) Atkinson, Charles Patrick "Chuck" Thielen, Eugene Henry Thielen, and Jerome Joseph "Jerry" Thielen.

mary kurten thielen racine wisconsin o'connor
This photo of the Thielen and O'Connor families was taken at Mary's house on Jackson Street. Mary is the woman at the far left in the front row.

Mary died on March 22, 1941 at St. Mary's Hospital in Racine, and her funeral was held at the same church where her wedding took place fifty years earlier. Mary was buried at Holy Cross Cemetery on Kinzie Avenue in the Kurten family plot, alongside her husband, grandson, parents, and siblings.

mary kurten racine wisconsin appleton holy cross cemetery
The south half of the Kurten family plot, with Mary's headstone second from the right.
Mary's Find A Grave memorial is #95324955.


  1. I stumbled on this article and so thankful for your info. I am a granddaughter of Viola Elizabeth Thielen Atkinson. I have heard stories and some of the names. Your photo and info is a treasure, thank you.

    1. Hi,
      Thank you for the kind comment. Viola's brother Matt was my great-grandfather.

  2. I often wondered where my brothers earned their names. Your article explains Michael and Matthew.... Viola's eldest daughter, Lorraine, passed away today.

    1. It can definitely be interesting to trace family names. I'm sorry to hear about Lorraine.


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